Saturday, September 27, 2014

September vs. Allison

My principal says September is kind of like giving birth for teachers: time passes and we forget how hard labor really is.  That's probably why I said goodbye to August with such high hopes and good intentions of kicking the school year off right.  Instead the first month of school kicked me and left me feeling pulverized.

September is unpacking boxes, stapling up bulletin boards and alphabetizing class lists.  September is giving a million pre-assessments...which means GRADING a million pre-assessments and then sitting in a million meetings to ANALYZE the pre-assessments.  September is meeting and greeting parents at Open House and preparing a Back to School night presentations.  September is setting up classrooms, setting up routines, setting up conferences.  September is coming to school early every single day and staying late every single evening.

And when I leave, I go to my other full-time job.

I walk in the door completely exhausted...I've been on the go for 12 straight hours...and there's laundry to be done and bills to pay and a dog that doesn't get nearly enough attention (as he keeps demonstrating by ripping  holes in my couch).  There's football practice, football games, homework help and piano practice.  Everyone in my family is trying to get used to new routines and the homework load and I am not there nearly enough for their liking.  In one week of September, I was out every single night at three different Back To School nights, a Driver's Ed meeting and a Girl Scout meeting.  It is too much-- TOO MUCH!-- but we all just keep going because we have to.  We just keep putting one foot in front of the other and crossing off those September days, one by one. 

As my students left one day, I looked around the room at the aftermath of our busy day.  I wanted to leave, but their ME Collages were stacked haphazardly under my chair by the rug, I had a difficult email to write to a parent, and sub plans to prepare since I would be out for training the next day.


The text message says, "Mom, I need a ride home from football."  I leave my room, with my To Do list looming.  I pick up Jack, stop off at home and change into running clothes.  (Well, all my running shorts were dirty so I was wearing an old hot pink tennis skirt.  Haven't played tennis in years but it is a good wardrobe staple when you have no time to do laundry.)  Katherine picks this point in the evening to declare that she is FAILING French so I spend a little time conjugating the verb avoir with her (J'ai, tu as, il a, nous avons, vous avez, ils ont....yeah, Monsieur Rummings, I still got it!) before heading back to school at 7:00 p.m. to write my sub plans.

The first thing I notice when I return to the classroom is that the ME Collages are gone.  You know, the ones I left in a messy pile on the floor.  Mr. Kim, our janitor, thought they were trash and helpfully put them in the dumpster.  Did I mention that it was raining? 

Right there, in my classroom at 7:00 p.m., in my hot pink tennis skirt, I started to cry.  I cried because the kids worked so hard on those projects.  I cried because I was trying to do TOO MUCH and I was failing miserably.  I cried because it was raining.  I cried because I couldn't even find the time to go for a run.

Then, I heard footsteps.  Coming up the ramp was the custodian with a parent looking for some forgotten homework.  And...what are the happened to be the same parent that just received that difficult email an hour ago.  So, right there, on Wednesday night, wearing a tennis skirt and holding a snotty tissue, I had a parent- teacher conference.  Oh the joy.

This story has a happy ending.  The next morning when I returned to school, Mr. Kim had found the collages and returned them--unharmed--to my classroom.  The other happy ending is that September doesn't last forever and it is almost October. 

October is going to rock.  I am SO going to have my shit together.  Yes, I know we have report cards and parent teacher conferences coming up.  But I don't remember those being hard....

Just so you don't think September was totally awful, it did have some happy moments like these:
First Day of School Smiles
Visiting Luray Caverns
10th Annual Neighborhood Camping Trip
Fun weekend visiting with Mom and Jim

Jack's first homecoming dance.